Spiral Death of Criticism

Regarding the whole Christian Viveros-Faune/Village Voice thing :

Tyler Green’s finger of shame is pointing the wrong way. Instead of scolding Christian Viveros-Faune for failing to disengage himself from competing artworld roles, a better target would be the Village Voice, for trying to pretend to a disinterest it can’t afford.  Whoever said that Viveros-Faune ought to be disinterested? Tyler Green, and apparently every other professional critic, speaking for journalistic convention. If Viveros-Faune were writing a personal blog, there would be no conflict of interest, as the blog’s interests and Viveros-Faune’s interests would obviously be one and the same. There would be no assumption of journalistic distance. The problem is expectations: newspaper critics are supposed to be disinterested, and that stance is becoming more and more difficult to maintain as these publications are shrinking. The Village Voice is caught a bind: they want expertise cheap, and the only way to get it is to use people who will write for them because they have a personal or professional interest in the subject. No, it’s not the journalistic ideal, but it’s what we’ve got.

This is what people mean when they talk about the death of art criticism. Actually it’s the death of a professional, disinterested criticism, reserved for a few privileged mouthpieces. What’s emerging is the open-ended lively competition among amateur critics like myself, with different readerships, abilities and interests and ideas. It’s OK for Green to demand squeaky-clean compartmentalization between journalism and commerce, but it just can’t be. High standards are great. But if you want knowledgeable people to write about art without moonlighting, you must pay them a living wage.

In unrelated news, also via Modern Art Notes , there is a flap about oil drilling near the site of Robert Smithson’s signature earthwork, Spiral Jetty. I find it hilariously ironic that preservationists are worried about roads, trucks and noise interfering in the environment. It just goes the show that you can get too close to something to see it clearly. Granted, Smithson’s piece is all about the finger of man, via trucks and bulldozers, defacing a pristine natural landscape, and it wouldn’t have the same impact if it were surrounded by similar industrial sculpture.

The alert letter being emailed around has the only map I’ve ever seen of the
Jetty’s closely guarded location:

spiraljettymap.jpg

 

 

also by Bill Davenport

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One response to “Spiral Death of Criticism”

  1. How is it that installing a few oil rigs is different than bulldozing a lot of rocks? Degree? Just curious. Seems to me it’s all matter being moved around by people for different reasons. Oh, I see… one activity is art and the other isn’t. I just get mixed up sometimes.

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